Marie Alles Fernando
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25 – A Quarter Century of Art
The idyllic quality of rustic existence dominates a number of her paintings. The quiet pace of village life is captured in her studies of their activities - women with baskets of fish or pots of water or at their household chores, or playing the Rabana in a joyous rhythm, the pingo man walking slowly down the road, men pushing out to sea in their boats or just standing and staring - all pictures which are soothing and relaxing. Marie is also pre-occupied with crowds and crowded places managing them extremely well. They convey the moods and activities typical of our people. Here it is the atmosphere rather than the realism of a situation that she tries to get across - a subtle, introspective view. A much disciplined artist, Marie learnt various aspects of art from other artists. Prof. Douglas Amarasekera under whom Marie studied from 1960-68 opened her eyes to Light and Shade. He also led her to an appreciation of classical music, poetry and literature - all influence that enriched her life and broadened her vision. She was also influenced both by the French Impressionists and by Chinese and Japanese paintings and Japanese poetry. Marie studied figure drawing under Prof. Douglas Amarasekera. Later in 1981 she had the opportunity of studying art at the Methodist Art School in Demarast, New Jersey, USA and in 1986 she visited the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. Her work has been called ‘an interesting example of the value of internationalism.’
Marie says ‘My art is influenced by what I read and the experiences I have in life. I try to paint in terms of light and shade. Life is full of light and shade - light being happiness and shade the sadness.’ In 1979 Marie held an exhibition of Oil paintings and Drawings titled ‘Light and Shade’ at the Lionel Wendt Art Gallery sponsored by the French Embassy. Her painting of a path along trunks of trees with a hint of light filtering was titled ‘Light and Shade’. ‘Rural Charm’ was a thatched house into which light streams in. She also had a few figure drawings of forms in terms of light and shade - a deviation from the conventional style.

It has been said of her work ‘To Marie, light is a source of inspiration and she has observed the varying effect of light on nature, on man and on the very atmosphere. These she has delicately captured in her paintings of natural scenes of Sri Lanka. Though Marie has travelled widely she has never wished to paint foreign landscapes. She finds inspiration in the beauty of her own land.’

Marie says ‘I have tried to evolve something synthesizing all the elements of European culture, I have been exposed to, with my reactions to the colourful landscapes I love’
So it was that in 1975 and 1986 her works were selected to represent Sri Lanka at the 3rd and 6th Triennial at New Delhi. In 1980 an exhibition of her paintings was held at Nuan Naane Art Centre in Bangkok, Thailand, sponsored by Prof. U A B Sanasen. In 1985, an exhibit of hers was sent by the Ministry of Cultural Affairs to the 2nd Asian Art Exhibition in Fukoka, Japan and in 1986 she had an exhibition of 40 paintings at Ring Gallery in Vienna, Austria. The purpose was to project the image of Sri Lanka and to benefit the UN Year of Peace. Her oil painting ‘Meditation’ which belongs to the category of peace and reconciliation was presented to Mr Moffak Allaf (Secretary General, United Nations Vienna, Austria) as her contribution from Sri Lanka.

One review said ‘The emotional warmth of the Sri Lankan people, the agelessness of their daily tasks in harmony with the workings of nature, their conception of a permanent value in their relationships with each other, with work, and their natural environment, are all embedded in the quality of Marie’s paintings. They are lit by an inner luminosity that speaks of an assured rapport with a way of life and belief that is centuries old.. . Displaying her maturing sensibility, the large mural titled ‘Sri Lankan Life’ is a panoramic view of characteristic aspects of life on the island. This is a painting that combines many pictorial elements and weaves them into a complex design.
In 1987 Marie held an exhibition of her work during the period 1985-87 termed ‘Windows open to Nature’. It featured an interesting series of paintings on the Randenigala Project. ‘Looking towards Randenigala’ shows mountains sloping toward a very light pastel horizon, with a well developed sense of proportion it depicts the oncoming mist slowly engulfing the countryside, a creation with poetry, ‘Gorgeous in the sun’ is a study in clouds done in soft purples and greens onto which the sun sets leaving it like a well polished gem.

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